Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

June 17, 2007


Father’s Day is a good time for dads to read a good book


          There is no doubt that television has caused a decline in reading. Let’s face it: people are lazy. One man told me recently that he never reads anything but road signs and billboards.

          My guess is that men read less than women. Men probably figure that “tough guys” don’t read; they just watch movies made for tough guys.

          Even so I am going to insist that Father’s Day is a good time for dads to read a good book. So, preacher, what is a good book?

          The first one that comes to mind is Bringing Up Boys by James Dobson. I recommend it especially for dads who still have the awesome task of helping a son to grow up.

          Dobson came along a little late for me. By the time he and his books became popular, my sons were grown. Reading Dobson only confirmed what I already suspected: I had made every mistake known to man in bringing up my boys.

          At first I caved in under the weight of guilt. I complained because no one had told me what I learned from Dobson. But Dobson helped me with my guilt, thank God. He helped me realize that boys have to assume some of the responsibility for their own sins; God holds dads responsible only for their own shortcomings.

          I remember learning one thing on my own when I was about 40. For years I had nursed a certain disappointment in my dad because of his stern, even sometimes harsh, demeanor. I had not been very forgiving toward dad for the mistakes I felt he had made as my father.

          But one day it dawned on me that I was very much like him. I had to admit that, like dad, I made sure my boys understood that I ruled the roost in our family. I was the Commander-in-Chief. I did not need to give reasons for my orders; they were to be obeyed “because I said so.”

           Realizing that I was a carbon copy of my dad jarred me. But the great lesson I learned was this: I needed the forgiveness of my sons. And I knew I had to forgive my dad before I could expect my boys to forgive me for my sins. That led to a new openness and a new relationship with my dad. In time it changed the way I felt about him. I had a new understanding of the frailty of man – mine and dad’s.

          Some men will ignore my plea to spend ten or fifteen dollars on the book by Dobson. That is too much money for a book that just may be too heavy for me, some will think.

          So for the tough guys who think like that, I recommend another book: My Daddy Was a Pistol and I’m a Son of a Gun by Lewis Grizzard.  Lewis loved his Daddy though his time with him was cut short by the war. He cherished memories of his dad, even his hair and his smell.

           Writing about his priceless memories of his daddy, Lewis mixes good humor with serious stuff. He said, “I have some pictures of my father. I have that packet of war records. I have the flag that was across his casket. I have his Bronze Star and his Purple Hearts in a frame and they hang on my wall.

           “But what I don’t have anymore is him. There will be no new memories made. That is why I cling to those I have with such tenacity.”

           If you still have your dad, instead of a tie give him a good book for Father’s Day. He just might read one given to him by his son or daughter. Better yet, make some new memories with him while you can.

           Today, like Lewis, I cherish the memories of my dad that are precious to me because I don’t have him anymore. But I can say this with certainty: good memories do make a difference. I wish I had been wise enough to make more. + + +